When students think about chemistry, they don’t typically consider the creative aspects of the subject. New chemistry professor Jesse Kern is hoping to show another side of the chemistry to his students.
“I want to bring an open-minded, softer, and more flexible approach to studying chemistry,” Kern said. “It’s not necessarily all about the exact numbers you get in an experiment or the exact rules you follow when you write a paper. You have to design experiments and be creative sometimes. And other times you have to present your experiments and be able to communicate both on a professional and casual level. Maybe in high school that’s not something students would normally see, but I think that really complements the Randolph curriculum as well.”
In his first semester at Randolph, Kern is teaching General Chemistry and Physical Chemistry. He previously worked as a post-doctoral research associate for two years at the University of Tennessee primarily studying molecular catalysis. In that role, he collaborated with a number of university faculty and mentored undergraduates in their research. His own work has been published in the Journal of Chemical Physics, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, and Fluid Phase Equilibria.
Kern received his B.S. degree from Baker University and his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, where he completed his dissertation on interfacial thermodynamics. His interest in chemistry and science began in high school, when he was a member of the science club. That interest was nurtured and expanded thanks to his chemistry and science teachers.
“They were amazing and enthusiastic about their fields, and they were engaging in the classroom,” Kern said. “They gave opportunities to advanced students, and ever since then it was just my passion.”
Kern now hopes to bring the same excitement to his classes at Randolph. He is a proponent of an active classroom and interactive discussions and has not been disappointed in the conversations with his students so far.
“I’m really impressed by how promising my younger students are, and I’m loving the campus and how gorgeous it is,” he said.
Outside the classroom, Kern enjoys experimenting with computers and playing video games. He has also enjoyed sampling the variety of ethnic food and other restaurants in the Lynchburg area.
“I felt immediately welcomed, and I had the best interactions during my interview here than any other I had gone on,” Kern said. “I really enjoy the downtown area of Lynchburg as well, and that scene kind of helped me ease into the decision to come here.”